All News & Blogs
Start the new school year off on the right foot with these tips
illustrations by Hector Casanova/The Kansas City Star
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
BY KIM BAER
Buh-bye lazy days.
Hello papers and meetings and events and practices and homework and worksheets and textbooks.
Let the juggling begin.
But the great thing?
The new school year also offers the chance to make a fresh start.
Want to tame before- and after- school chaos and help your child get the most out of the academic year?
Then read on.
We're sharing tips e-mailed to us by Michael Sidebotham, principal of Stafford County's Grafton Village Elementary School, and Holly Schiffrin, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Mary Washington and a certified parent coach.
On the organization front, We've also collected tips from Carrie Cornelius of Fredericksburg-based Miss Organization, Melissa Sorensen of Manassas-based Insightful Solutions and Sue Marie Bowling of Stafford-based Prescription for Order.
1. Check school Web sites. These often have great information about the school's staff, curriculum and the community, advises Sidebotham.
2. Attend open houses and back-to-school nights. "These events allow parents and students to meet the teacher and tour the classroom, which is very important in making children feel safe and secure," Sidebotham says.
3. Get involved. Parent-teacher groups are one option. Ask the teacher about other opportunities to volunteer, Sidebotham suggests.
4. Don't leave all the work up to your child's teachers. Build a rich learning environment at home, too, suggests Schiffrin.
Read to your children, take them to the library, go exploring to find different leaves or flowers, visit a museum. Practice what you preach. Model learning by reading in front of your child, Schiffrin says. Be curious yourself. Ask questions about why things happen and find out the answers.
5. To do well in school, children need to have good attention spans, follow directions well and practice self-regulation. Reinforce these skills at home, Schiffrin advises.
Her suggestions: Give children developmentally appropriate challenges.
Let them practice following directions. Help them learn how to control their emotions (for instance, talk about taking a deep breath to help calm down).
6. Learn about your child's school. Schiffrin recommends parents find out what curriculum is used and why, what specialists are available to help and what other resources are out there.